tv Deadline White House MSNBC July 28, 2018 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT
so with that, that's our broadcast on a friday night and for this week. thank you so very much for being here with us. have a good weekend and good night from nbc news headquarters in new york. >> hi, everyone. it's 4:00 in new york. the hits keep coming for donald trump from his former fixer turned wanna be cooperating witness michael cohen. cohen now offering to tell special counsel robert mueller that the president knew about the trump tower meeting between his son and campaign leadership and russians with ties to the kremlin who promised dirt on hillary clinton. in light of the tape released earlier this week, in which cohen and trump appear to discuss the minutiae of how to funnel hush money to a former playboy playmate, it is certainly in line with the nature of donald trump's interest in matters big and small to have known about a meeting like this. what we now know about trump and cohen's relationship and what we've now heard with our own
ears is that trump was not at au walled off from the seedier aspects of being donald trump. in fact, he was very much hands on. if cohen's account proves true, donald trump's daily collusion denial may undergo an extreme make over and his supporters may soon be conditioned to accept that collusion isn't a crime instead of there was no collusion at all, and that is just the p.r. battle front. the legal problems for the president may be twofold. one, the trump tower meeting is under scrutiny in the obstruction of justice track of the mueller probe, and on the collusion track bob mueller has charged russian officials for election meddling and he may be building a conspiracy case and working to connect the dots to any unwitting or witting accomplices inside the trump orbit. cohen's bombshell contradicts many months of denials from donald trump about his knowledge of the trump tower meeting, like this one from an interview with "the new york times" last summer. >> did you know at the time that they had the meeting? >> no, i didn't know anything about the meeting.
it must have been a very important -- it must have been a very unimportant meeting because i hadn't even heard about it. >> no one told you a word, nothing? i know we talked about this on the plane a little bit, but nobody -- >> it sounded like a very unimportant meeting. >> donald trump, jr. also denied telling his father about the meeting. >> a lot of people are going to want to know this about your father. did you tell your father anything about this? >> no. it was such a nothing. there was nothing to tell. i wouldn't have even remembered it until you start scouring through the stuff. >> hard to imagine when he forgets it. but donald trump did reveal in public statements which we learned yesterday are under scrutiny in the mueller probe that he did know something was coming. >> i am going to give a major speech on probably monday of next week. and we're going to be discussing all of the things that have taken place with the clintons. i think you're going to find it very informative and very, very interesting. >> today is going to test your faith in coincidences, because
that announcement came the same day donald trump, jr. brokered the meeting just two days before the meeting took place. but as the dots get connected, donald trump blows his top and throws his son under the bus, tweeting this morning, i did not know the meeting with my son donald trump jr. sounds to me like someone, meaning cohen, is trying to make up extorted to get himself out of an unrelated jam. taxicabs maybe. he even retained bill and hillary's lawyer. gee, i wonder if they helped him make a choice. this afternoon, democratic senator patrick leahy said he'd like to see donald trump jr. back in front of the senate judicial committee. from "the new york times" investigative reporter matt apuzzo, matt miller former chief spokesman for the justice department, democratic congressman eric swalwell is here member of the house intel and judiciary committees. he's been investigating russian collusion. with us at the table emily jane
fox senior reporter for vanity fair. congressman, let me start with you. you have probably forgotten more about the role of the russians in the russia investigation than any of us will know. take us inside the investigation that your committee did into this trump tower meeting, ran up against roadblocks. were you able to find out whether or not donald trump, jr., had told his father this meeting or were there clues or leads that you wanted to follow that you couldn't? >> good afternoon, nicolle. we were as thorough as you could be on the democratic side without having subpoena power and without having republicans across the table from us on these interviews who showed the same interest. and so, you know, we asked all of the questions that the public would expect us to ask, but the problem was that, you know, donald trump, jr., when asked about the trump tower meeting and conversations with his father, he refused to answer any of them. and when we asked chairman conaway who was presiding on the republican side to subpoena
donald trump jr. and force him to answer, they never forced him to do that. they were able to essentially answer the questions they wanted to answer and just walk away from the ones that got too close. but, you know, frankly, nicole, when i hear michael cohen through these sources say that donald trump knew about the meeting, that's like telling us that the sun sets in the west. we always knew that donald trump knew about the meeting because all of the evidence suggested that. he was very close with the family that had asked donald trump, jr., to set up the meeting. he was one floor above where the meeting took place. donald trump, jr., and his father talked about donald trump, jr.'s work on behalf of the campaign throughout the pendency of the campaign. and of course there were the actions donald trump took after the meeting was exposed in his efforts to try and cover up the meeting by trying to dictate the statement that donald trump, jr., gave to the press. it's not really a surprise, but now is the time for michael cohen to cooperate with bob mueller. and if this was a real investigation on the house side, we would be bringing michael cohen and donald trump, jr., back in. but unfortunately the republicans prematurely and
irresponsibly ended our investigation. so this is all on mueller now. >> matt miller, talk about the optics of this. if this really is evidence of collusion, why put it out this way? why put it out in the media instead of sharing it with people investigating collusion with russia? >> it's a great question. it's hard to answer for sure because we don't know who this came from. we don't know if it came from michael cohen where you would presume it came, or whether somehow donald trump's team put it out there with some allegation last night from lanny davis it was the trump people that were behind this, that they didn't put it out. they didn't seem to back off from that allegation. i'm suspicious how the trump team would know that michael cohen was ready to testify to this unless michael cohen's attorneys had gone to trump or cohen himself had gone to trump and threatened that testimony in exchange for something. you would presume a pardon. so that would raise i think even more questions. if michael cohen is putting this out, i think he's playing a dangerous game with prosecutors. prosecutors obviously don't want their witnesses sharing information like this with the public. they want them to come in and
make a deal privately, do it in a proffer session where you come in and tell prosecutors everything you know. so he's a little bit -- if he is the person behind this, he's a little bit devaluing his ability to go in and make a deal with prosecutors. and i think they will be somewhat angry about it. but we are in this place where, look, no one on either side of this divide, on team trump or on team cohen really has a lot of credibility. so when you try to sort out who might be telling the truth about who leaked what to the press, it's very difficult with this cast of characters. >> if true, though, matt miller, what is the significance of michael cohen, who we heard on other tapes released this week, spoke about sort of the -- he used the word seedier, maybe there's a better word, dirtier aspects of donald trump's personal and business life. what is the significance of michael cohen being able to place donald trump sort of in the circle of people who knew about that trump tower meeting if it proves true? >> there are a few things. it would put donald trump right in the middle of a conspiracy.
the second thing is, it would obviously pose real legal problems for donald trump jr. who went to congress and said under penalty of perjury he never told his father about that meeting. if that turns out not to be true, it's punishable by up to five years in jail. you showed in the clips earlier, the people who work for the president, the president's lawyers all lied about this publicly. while lying publicly, lying to the press is not a crime, it can be powerful evidence of a cover up. if you are going to -- if bob mueller at the end of this is going to conclude that donald trump is trying to obstruct justice by ending the investigation, by covering up what happened, it will be both his actions privately in asking law enforcement officials to back off and his actions publicly in trying to cover up what happened that for the heart of that conspiracy allegation. >> congressman, let me ask you to pick up that thread and let me read you a footnote from the democratic house intel committee report. you guys write that, while the committee has not pursued leads to determine who called donald
trump, jr. at a critical time in that meeting from a blocked number, cory lewandowski told the committee that the mr. trump's residence has a blocked phone line despite repeated efforts to obtain cell phone records from donald trump to determine whether the blocked call was donald trump, jr.'s father. the majority was unwilling to pursue the matter. you had a lead. you were trying to answer this question for yourself. talk about the significance of that call. >> that's right, nicolle. we know that days before the meeting occurred, donald trump, jr. made a phone call to the russians who set up the meeting. and then talked to a blocked number and then made a phone call back to the russians who set up the meeting. and we learned through evidence that candidate trump used a blocked number at that time. so there's a lot of circumstantial evidence that pointed to donald trump knowing about the meeting. i actually think it would be stranger if he didn't know about the meeting considering how close he is with his son and how micro managing he was of many of the details like this. now, michael cohen is also important, nicolle, because there was the trump tower and moscow deal that he was doing during the primary in october of
2015. so i'm hoping that he's going to be just as forthcoming about what donald trump the candidate knew at that time about felix sater trying to set up a trump tower in moscow, putting vladimir putin and donald trump together and as felix sater said it, if we get those two together, we can engineer the election and elect donald trump president. so there's a lot more to learn if michael cohen wants to come clean. >> does michael cohen want to come clean? >> yes, i think we have seen every indication over the last several weeks, particularly over the last week. and people in cohen's orbit have been saying to me not only does he want to come clean, does he want to do the right thing by his family and the country as well, but he feels like he has been on the other end of a concerted attack by the president, by rudy giuliani, by members of the president's family. and the message that i have received is he feels like he's been attacked and every time he gets attacked, he is going to attack back. we've seen that happen a couple
of times in the last couple weeks. if it were to happen again -- >> why is he trying -- why is he trotting his evidence out in the media instead of having private meetings? he now has a well regarded attorney. why not have these meetings outside of the glare of the media where people can question his credibility, where people can question his motives? >> people in his circle said that they were not behind the leak last night, that they were surprised when they saw this on television last night. i can speak to the tape earlier this week which rudy giuliani was the only person on the record on friday commenting about what was on the tape and he called it completely exculpatory for the president. he said it was the president who brought up paying with a check and not with cash. because that narrative was out there, the people around him said, you know what, in this instance, let's set the record straight. let's put the tape out there because this false narrative that is damaging to us is being created and let's stop that -- >> cohen put out that tape of
the president and mike cohen talking about hush money for mcdueling. there is speculation they put this information out, too. one of things he has over the president is he can place the president sort of in the circle of people who knew about the meeting with russia. >> sure. the way it's been described to me from these people is that that is exactly why they wouldn't have put out yesterday's news. this is something that is a big deal to them. this is something they wanted to deliver to prosecutors potentially down the line. that this is a card in their deck that they were going to play. so there was no reason for them to put this out. it does not serve them and this was not part of their strategy or their plan. >> and they acknowledge that it doesn't serve them. >> absolutely. they said to me this was not something that benefited them at all, which was their justification for saying we were not the ones behind this leak. >> matt apuzzo, regardless of who put it out, it is well documented by you and your colleagues that bob mueller does view this trump tower meeting and statements given to your newspaper and others about that meeting as central to both the obstruction of justice investigation and potentially
the investigation into collusion or coordination with the russians. can you just back up a little bit and just reset the importance of this trump tower meeting and why it might be of value to bob mueller to know? we have some of the questions you guys have reported on that robert mueller wants to know when the president became aware of the trump tower meeting, what involvement you had in the communication strategy, including the release of don junior's e-mails. those two questions seem to get the first one to collusion and the second one to potential obstruction. >> if really does go to the heart of both strands of the mueller investigation. the quell of collusion, of course, is this is the evidence, the most explicit public evidence of collusion where you had somebody say in writing, the russian government is offering help to your campaign and the campaign says, great, i love it, let's do it. and then they said, yeah, but it didn't work out. our efforts to get help from the russian government fizzled, so thus no collusion. and then there is also the obstruction question of was the
president putting out a false narrative as i think matt miller talked about to try to tamp down questions and tamp down investigators' questions about this very meeting. so, of course, all this cohen stuff is very interesting. if it's true, would certainly be of interest in the investigation. there's no question it would be. >> and cohen -- i'm sorry. don junior lied to your newspaper. the original statement on this meeting from don junior was that the meeting was a short introductory meeting. i asked jared and paul to stop by. we primarily discussed a program about the adoption of russian children that was active and popular with american families years ago and has since ended, ended by the russian government. it was not a campaign issue at the time and there was no follow-up. i guess when you see rudy giuliani out there calling cohen a liar, they're all liars. >> it complicates things, doesn't it, when you get statements like that? you know, look, it wasn't a campaign issue at the time and they reached out to the campaign
and said, we want to support the russian government wants to support your campaign and we have information that will help. they met with that expectation. they didn't think the information was useful. i'm not sure whether they didn't understand that what was being discussed here was russian sanctions and it is very much, you know, when we talk about russian adoption, what we're talking about is russian sanctions. or whether this was them just being misleading about it. obviously this at best was a muss leading statement. and, you know, it took us a couple days to unravel that and get behind it. so, look, the question of what did the president know is front and center in this investigation. it's been something we've been asking for a year now. i mean, it was last july that we broke this story. we've wanted to know the answer. and bob mueller does, too. >> and i think you guys will be the ones to get to the bottom of it, you and emily both. let me just show you what to the layperson the president did that makes this question of collusion seem silly.
he was calling plays and the russians seemed to be following them. here's the president calling for the release of hillary clinton's e-mails. >> russia, if you're listening, i hope you're able to find the 30,000 e-mails that are missing. >> congressman swalwell, that was two years ago today. the russians of course went ahead and hacked into the dnc servers. they've been -- some of them involved have been indicted now by robert mueller. this seems to be a debate that gets lost in a lot of staring at the trees when the forest to a layperson or a nonlawyer investigating collusion like are you looks pretty darn obvious to the eye. and it seems to be donald trump saying to his supporters, don't believe what you see, don't believe what you hear. what we see and hear is pretty obviously coordination with an american adversary. >> and we were reminded just last week in helsinki how close
he's drawn us to russia which is evidence how close he was with them or wanted to work with them. but if you're at home and you're wondering why does it matter that donald trump knew that this meeting was going to take place? it matters because of what he did not do. if he knew it was going to take place, he did not stop it. he did not report it to the fbi. he allowed it to go forward. and he allowed his campaign to draw itself so close to a country that is so opposite to what america values, and that is a problem. that played out last week in helsinki. if that continues to fester, that undermine the idea of america that gives all of us opportunity, liberty and freedom. >> congressman eric swalwell, mat an puzo, thank you for getting us started. when we come back, taking a bullet for donald trump to driving a stake through the president's central defense about campaign collusions with raern. new reporting says cohen and trump are now dead to each other. and drag agdonald trump kicking and screaming to tow a tougher
line against russia. that effort under way this afternoon. we'll let you know how it's going. and spotted in transit, donald trump, jr., and special counsel robert mueller. we'll show you the odd couple. wrong. your insurance company is gonna raise your rate after the other car got a scratch so small you coulda fixed it with a pen. maybe you should take that pen and use it to sign up with a different insurance company. for drivers with accident forgiveness liberty mutual won't raise their rates because of their first accident. liberty mutual insurance. ♪ liberty. liberty. liberty. liberty ♪ welcome to holiday inn! thank you! ♪ ♪ wait, i have something for you! every stay is a special stay at holiday inn. save up to 15% when you book early at hollidayinn.com
i expected something like this from cohen. he's been lying all week or -- he's been lying for years. i don't see how he has any credibility. this is basically if you had a trial -- there won't be a trial here. if you had a try, which lie do you want to pick? do you want to pick the first lie, the second lie or some new lie? there isn't anybody that knows him if his back is up against the wall he'll lie like crazy. he's lied all his life. the man is a liar, proven liar. there is no way you're going to bring down the president of the united states on the testimony uncorroborated of a proven liar. i guarantee you this guy is a proven liar.
>> so, heilman has joined the table. i saw that last night. i missed the beginning. i thought he was talking about donald trump. >> the great thing about it is, first of all he's saying -- >> i was flabbergasted. did he get fired? >> we can't take the testimony of a proven liar who is the personal lawyer to the proven liar because, well, how would you possibly know what do? i will say somebody made the point this morning, i believe it was joyce vance who said when you're prosecuting a case, you you don't get to pick your witnesses. your witnesses are chosen by the defendant. the defendant chooses who to commit crimes with. often they choose liars to commit crimes with so you get witnesses who are liars. the question what you do in a court is demonstrate why certain people who are proven liars are believable in this instance because of the accumulation of evidence and others who are proven liars or should not be believed because of another accumulation of evidence. the fact that anyone, the president, michael cohen or anybody else has a history of lying is not relevant to what they're saying in any given instance is true and what the
totality of the evidence shows in that case. >> and the point is we're so conditioned to cover the lies. we talk about everything we say is lies. now we're talking about a legal setting where they have serious implications. >> right. it's a torturous funny hearing rudy giuliani tirade about liars. can't tolerate the lying, oh, my god. that's your client, buddy. >> it was on full display in the aftermath of reports that michael cohen is willing to offer damning information on trump to robert mueller. just after cohen's lawyer released a recording of a conversation with trump about hush money. it's become an all-out war between trump and his fixer corresponding to the daily beast that left their relationship shattered beyond repair. the daily beast saying, two source who have spoken to trump about cohen this week said the president is furious after cnn revealed cohen covertly recorded at least one of their conversations. they're dead to each other now, said another source close to the
president who also knows cohen. trump allies are gaming out how to in the words of one outside advisor, bury cohen. joining us now former u.s. attorney barbara mcquade, betsy woodruff, politics reporter for the daily beast and heilemann has joined the table. barbara, let me ask you, there is also reporting that michael cohen puts other people in the room with donald trump, jr., and the president. could that be the piece that explains why he was willing to dangle this out there? could that be something that is of interest or of value if he can paint a picture and offer up the names of other witnesses that could say that, yeah, donald trump knew about this meeting? >> yes, very much so. in fact, if you listen to rudy giuliani when he's using the word lie, lie, lie over and over again, one of the things he says that's already important is uncorroborated. the key that a prosecutor would want to do in a witness like michael cohen is corroborate him. one way you can do it is by not calling him at all, but the other people. he can provide information that person a, b, and c were also in the room when this happened.
it could be that that's very helpful information. but that robert mueller ends up calling as a witness person a, b or c. in addition, there can be all kinds of other corroboration. there could be maybe he recorded the conversation as he's done on other occasions. maybe there are text messages or e-mail messages. there are a lot of ways you can corroborate it. you wouldn't have that statement standing all alone, be all that you rely on. you would use all these other ways to support it. >> betsy woodruff, that's why their destroy michael cohen plan may come up well short of erasing him as the x factor here. he may know enough about other people who saw and witnessed what went on and what went down in trump tower. >> that's right. if you don't have to rely on michael cohen, you probably won't want to. and assuming the reporting is correct, which i haven't confirmed, but assuming it's correct that there were additional people in the room when trump was alerted to the fact that this meeting was going to happen, that obviously would play a key role in potentially corroborating anything michael cohen said. one thing i can tell you is the
attacks, the efforts to undermine cohen are likely to come from people outside the white house. don't anticipate people currently working in the white house going after him. it would put them in a very weird situation to try to attack the credibility of someone who up until recently worked for their boss, the president. however, people in rudy giuliani's circle, additional outside surrogates, outside allies, you can expect to see those people in the coming weeks and months do everything in their power to try to torch michael cohen's credibility. scorching his credibility is key to defending the president here. >> go ahead. >> barbara mcquade talked about a, c and c. i'd like to suggest the possibility of knowing the way that campaign operated what was the world like in jub of 2016? i'd suggest person h, person h.h., hope hicks. if you were looking for anybody? i'd suggest person h, person h.h., hope hicks. if you were looking for anybouj? i'd suggest person h, person h.h., hope hicks. if you were looking for anybonj
2016? i'd suggest person h, person h.h., hope hicks. if you were looking for anyboi' h.h., hope hicks. if you were looking for anybody to be in any room donald trump was in when you were talking about meetings that might be happening in that building in june 2016, she has already talked to robert mueller. >> do you know if hope hicks is one of the people michael cohen can put in that room? >> i do not know. i do know how closely michael cohen and hope hicks and everyone in that small mom and pop shop office that is trump tower. >> you just dropped a story, i want to get to it. this is a really important point. people around the president, and this is why we started the show by saying what we heard with our own ears is important. donald trump wasn't walled off from the gross aspects of covering up his sexual relationships or being involved in getting dirt. that was where he thrived. he wasn't some titan of business. he ran a very small mom and pop operation and michael cohen was his right hand man. >> people often think of the trump organization because president trump is a very good brander as this big fortune 500-type company. it is tiny. it is beak his home office. he lives in that building. his children grew up in that building. people have worked there for dozens of years. people don't leave, new people don't come in.
>> right. >> not only does everyone there know what's going on and know all the players but as people who are close to the president have always said to me, nothing happens in that organization without the presidenting knowing about it. >> he always took a very intense interest about negative information about hillary clinton. >> matt miller, i want to get you in on this and then get to eply's piece. all that information obviously known to robert mueller, southern district of new york. it seems like there's a lot that they know that we don't know at this point. >> that is absolutely right. if you think about the two big investigations going on here, the mueller investigation and the southern district of new york investigation, michael cohen is the piece that fuses those two investigations together. obviously we know he comes up -- he's now put himself in the middle of the mueller investigation with this piece of information that leaked out last night. he also comes up prominently in the dossier. there was a report by mcclatchy several months ago reports he actually was in prague as the dossier said despite his denials. that report hasn't been confirmed by other news outlets. we're waiting to see whether
that's true or not. he denied it. but he now seems to be changing his story. he is the target of the sdny investigation which we now know is pulling in the trump organization because sdny has subpoenaed the cfo of the trump organization. when you look at these two massive threats to the president, michael cohen is right at the center of both of them. and if he does decide his only path forward, his only way out of this jeopardy -- because he's not going to get a pardon any more, that seems clear -- is to talk about both what he knows about russia and what he knows about trump's business dealings before the campaign ever began. it is -- an enormous, enormous threat to the president. >> emily, let's put up the headline for your piece that just dropped a couple of minutes ago. we love people who file in the 4:00 hour. fury, cohen is mad as hell and he's not going to take it any more. this jumped out to me. cohen reached out to another trump foe. according to two people with knowledge of the situation, on friday morning, cohen texted steve bannon, that's this morning. the former white house chief strategist ejected from the white house after making a receivers inflammatory remarks
about the president and his family to michael wolff and his book "fire and fury." in one claim, bannon told hoefl trump knew about the meeting in trump tower. the chance don juniors did not walk these jmos up to his father's office. >> jumo -- >> i'll have to google that. i forgot what it meant. the fact he did not walk them up to his father's office on the 26th floor is zero. bannon told wolff calling the meeting treasonous and unpatriotic. that was the claim that among other things got bannon thrown out of his cushy west wing perch. talk about the fact that cohen and bannon now corroborate one another's version of donald trump's none of the meeting. >> timing is everything, right? their stories now align. these are two people who didn't necessarily work together and didn't necessarily see eye to eye during the campaign. but this morning of all mornings, after the news broke, michael cohen is living in a hotel where steve bannon stays when he comes to new york.
and michael cohen had run into people who worked with steve bannon so michael cohen fired off a text. he said hey, i've seen all your people. are you still at the gee gent regency. steve bannon responded nice to hear from you, brother, i think we should only communicate lawyer to lawyer from now on. but once this all blows over, we should catch up. >> let's be clear about one thing about this. i think steve bannon's testimony is valuable in the sense he understands how the trump organization operates. he was not present in june of 2016. he was not in the room. he was not working on the campaign yet. it was two months before he would join. he's speculating. >> or someone told him. >> he could never be a direct evidentiary witness in this case because he was not present at that time. however, like i said, he knew how the operation worked. he knows what the relationship is between donald trump, jr. is and his father. he knows what kinds of things the son would tell the father, what kinds of things the father would want to know. it's very informed, highly informed speculation. >> barbara mcquade, how does an investigator look at that, take
into account they have similar -- the analysis is the same? michael cohen, though, as an eyewitness who was saying that he was in the room when don junior told the president. steve bannon, though, heard from somebody and heilman named one name of where he could have heard it. this was a small organization. i imagine it would be a methodical process to find out what everyone's version of events were in terms of donald trump's knowledge of this meeting. >> absolutely. so you would ask michael cohen who else was present. you'd want to talk to each one of those people what their recollection was, what they heard, what they saw. you also want to talk to steve bannon. you say you speculate this occurred. tell us how you know that. have you heard this from anybody? have you seen reference to it, have you seen any documents about it? what makes you say that? so from that you can obtain other evidence. in fact, it could even be possible that you can cut michael cohen right out of this as a witness and put on someone else who was present who has good credibility to testify that they were present when this happened without casting any doubt at all on it.
that's the way it goes. that's why investigations can take so long and it's difficult to predict when they'll end because every time you talk to someone and you find out about some meeting that happened, you want to ask who else was there, who else knows about it and then you need to talk to all of those people and so investigations can move on exponentially in that way to track down every important detail. >> let me give you the last word, betsy woodruff and ask you about steve bannon. the reaction to steve bannon's comments in "fire and fury" and the reaction to the raid on michael cohen's offices from the president were identical. and it should be noted there has been nothing that has happened to the country that he leads that has made the president as upset or angry publicly as the attack on his personal lawyer and fixer's office and as the criticisms from his former ply svengali steve ban. >> that's right. the thing trump cares more about is loyalty. whether or not he's actually earned that loyalty from the people around him. when he sees the people around him betray him or somehow show vulnerabilities to those who are potentially targeting the
president, he doesn't respond particularly well. another piece of detail here that's important to remember is that once trump has cast people out of his circle into the outer dark, he stops talking about them. he stops using their names. besides maybe one or two tweets, the president essentially never mentions steve bannon. in recent weeks despite the fact michael cohen has dominated headlines, trump isn't tweeting his name. he doesn't want to give either of these men notoriety, a hoax they can use to publicize their efforts. he doesn't want to in any way digny if i if you will, the trouble they've made for him. that is a strong indicator these men are dead to the president. >> dead and dangerous. they're all witnesses. betsy woodruff and emily jane fox, we're so grateful to have both of you. after the break, donald trump's no good very bad july went from the helsinki debacle to the cohen tapes. we'll show you how the president has hunkered down for the storm. alright guys let's go! let's do this directions to the greek theater (beep)
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thank you all very much. appreciate it. thank you. thank you. thank you very much. thank you. thank you. >> did michael cohen betray you? >> thank you very much. thank you. thank you. >> are you upset with mr. cohen? >> mr. president, is michael cohen telling the truth? is michael cohen telling the truth? mr. president, is michael cohen telling the truth? >> and that from a president who usually loves shouting questions and scrums with the media. but this week the typical chatty president hasn't answer aid single question. it's been a rough few days for the president. the start of the week we found out federal investigators have 12 audio tapes from trump's former fixer michael cohen and a new poll found that a majority of americans believe russia has compromising information on donald trump. on wednesday one of the cohen audio tapes was released and the public heard then candidate
trump talking about buying the rights to a former playboy play mate story about an alleged affair. then a federal judge rejected the president's effort to stop a lawsuit alleging he violated laws regarding conflicts of interest with foreign governments. we also learned the trump organization cfo who has deep ties to the trump family was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in the cohen criminal case. and last night, michael cohen claimed his former boss knew about in advance the june 2016 meeting in trump tower where russians were expected to offer dirt on hillary clinton. also last night, stormy daniels attorney michael avenatti announced he's representing three more women who claim they were paid hush money prior to the 2016 election. joining us at the table, journalist alicia menendez, contributing editor for bustle, and my friday date, reverend al sharpton. president of the national action network and host of "politics nation" here on msnbc. you couldn't make that up if you tried.
>> i wouldn't even try. >> i wouldn't try. it's an amazing narrative. >> it's just one day. >> one week. >> one week's worth of news. think about the rest of the month. holy moly. >> you know what's interesting about the avenatti news, he's been saying a long time there were other women. i interviewed him earlier this summer. i said if there are other women, why don't they come forward with their stories? they're looking at what happened to stephanie clifford, aka stormy daniels. they're worried about putting themselves out there for public scrutiny. it's as though his tactic has changed. he's calling on cohen to be the one to be the messenger on this piece. >> what we're seeing here is we're either seeing some real crazy strategy or some very smart strategy. >> which is always possible. right? >> and the smart strategy is, even the little audio that we've heard, they're building -- they're establishing how close cohen was to the president or before he was president. in the sense that if cohen does make a deal and has something
there, they're going to shoot at him like giuliani did last night, saying he's all this and that. they are on the tape that we did hear talking about his divorce papers, talking about which black minister to use in the campaign, and talking about building in effect the shell company -- >> you think the tape is the most devastating thing -- >> i think the tape establishes him as somebody close to the president who would be a problem for someone to hear him say things and you say he doesn't know what he's talking about. you don't get on the phone and talk to anybody about your divorce papers and which black preacher you're going to use in a campaign. i think they're building up credibility for him as being close to trump. >> i agree with you. i'm with the rev on this. i think the analysis that cohen sort of blew it by putting all this out there is wrong because i agree with you. what this tape shows and this little snippet of the tape shows is that donald trump was in the middle of the micro. he was handling the payoffs to
ami and he was interested in bringing them in. he says on the tape, what happens if david pecker gets hit by a truck. >> i've heard plausible arguments about -- the cohen side put the stuff out and the trump side put the stuff out. there are good arguments on both sides about the game theories of what you're trying to do. in the end i don't think it has anything to do with the evidence. the evidence is the evidence. it will end up in front of a court or not. the evidence will speak to something provably true or not. i think you're right in terms of the narrative, like who cares about michael cohen on some level? in the end the question is what did donald trump know, when did he know it, how involved was he, any claims that he's -- he was somehow distant from this, you pointed out a couple times today, distant from the dirty business of the women in the payments, the june 2016 russia meeting. all of these things are now collapsing on themselves and we're getting new characters, like his personal accountant who now is in this picture, who i keep hearing the same cliches, knows where the bodies are buried.
we used to say that about michael cohen. now we're saying it about the accountant. soon we'll be saying it about other people. more and more, the overall picture is not getting better for donald trump through any of this. >> and it's a little different saying cohen knows where the bodies are buried and the account who may have you buried the boys. >> and the grave digger and the taxi determinist. >> the cemetery. >> we heard michael cohen and donald trump are dead to each other. i'm thinking about death. >> barbara mcquade, let me bring you up to speed with breaking news. we're now able to report federal prosecutors have released the names of people slated to testify in paul manafort's upcoming trial. many have ties to firms manafort did business with. rick gates is on this list. he was manafort's former business partner. he's now cooperating witness in the mueller probe. he's pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate. it excludes manafort's son-in-law. some people thought he might end up on that list. he's been ensnared in all this.
what do you make of the fact that this is a 35-person list of witnesses who can presumably testify to manafort's crimes? >> so, 35 names are all the people that the government might call as witnesses, they have to put them on the list that they want to. usually like it's pared down to who actually gets called. some will likely be custodians of records who testify briefly to authenticate documents. this is very much a document case about bank fraud and tax returns. the star witness here will no doubt be rick gates. i'm sure all eyes will be on him. it will be a packed courtroom when he testifies because he is the one that connect the dots. once they get all those records into evidence, he can explain what the motives were and what makes this case criminal. >> matt miller, we didn't have the manafort trial on the list of the president's no good very bad week. this looms large over a president who i think has mused publicly and privately that he regrets having paul manafort on
the campaign. but that certainly wasn't the tune that he whistled when he went into the convention and paul manafort was his shepherd there, his spokesman, and very much at the helm of his presidential campaign. >> yeah, and you say the paul manafort trial. this is obviously the first of two paul manafort trials. we're going to get a little bit different flavor of everything paul manafort did in each of the trials. it's a story that's not going to go away. when you get to the president's legal problems, you're talking a minute ago about how everything is getting worse for him. we talked a lot about his legal problems. i think the bigger problem or i shouldn't say bigger problem. the narrative problem that he has right now is when you take all these new revelations of what happened in 2016, all of the close ties, the fact that he might have known about this meeting with the russians before it happened, it gives the american people a better lens on what's happening currently. so it gives them a way to interpret that meeting in helsinki that was such a disgrace. you see the president come out and act the way he does. you say, why does the president behave this way? why does he come out and deny what the american intelligence
community says is true? why does he make excuses for vladimir putin? when you start to add up what happened in 2016 and what we're learning with what we see in front of our face every day, it is a very damning picture for the president's behavior. >> so, i looked at this list, these 35 names. i don't recognize many of them. thankfully al sharpton's name is not on the list. neither of your name is not on the list. my name is not on the list. the interesting thing, rick gates, someone who has a long relationship, personal relationship with paul manafort. i once had a conversation with manafort where he talked about the hust with tad devine, the business they had done together abroad. it's the name for a variety of people on the -- the chief strategist on bernie sanders -- and jerry's campaign. long time democratic consultant at the heart of the democratic political establishment for a long time but who is again in donald trump's parlance, a swamp creature. someone who is friends with and has done business with paul manafort.
it will be interesting -- it will add a flavor of bipartisan spiciness to this when tad devine is called to talk about whatever he's going to talk about in this case. >> i had the same thought for that you did. >> been talking about it a long time, this is fascinating. >> barbara mcquade, you always make us smarter. reining in the president from russia. a meeting this afternoon may be the president's last chance to change his tune on putin before losing his support in republican circles. we'll bring you that story next. an energy company helping cars emit less. making cars lighter, it's a good place to start, advanced oils for those hard-working parts. fuels that go further so drivers pump less. improving efficiency is what we do best. energy lives here.
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we must lower our taxes. and your senator, claire mccaskill, she must do this for you. and if she doesn't do it for you, you have to vote her out of office. >> could that have been another russia, if you're listening moment, because it was about that time last year that russians attempted to hack the campaign of the red state democrat. "the daily beast" forensic analysis finding that the russian intelligence agency behind the 2016 election cyber hacks targeted claire mccaskill. the attempt against mccaskill's office was a variant to the password-stealing technique used by the hackers against clinton's campaign chairman, john podesta. this marks the first identified target of russia's interference in the 2018 elections.
in an effort that already looks a little bit like too little too late, donald trump met this afternoon with his national security council for the first-ever meeting to discuss election interference. coming on the very same day, putin extended an invitation for donald trump to visit him in moscow, which the white house has said, wait for it, he's open to. the panel and matt miller are still here. alicia? >> so often when we talk about election integrity, we focus on the apparatus. that's for something reason because we know in 2016 russian hackers were able to get into voting files to tinker with them and delete some voters. this is a very sobering reminder that it's not just about our aging equipment of voting, it's not just about auditing equipment, there are many ways to infuse chaos and noise into the system. this is just the beginning of what many experts anticipate to be a much bigger trend. >> rev, why can't democrats bring some republicans into the cause of protecting elections from the russians? >> i think that that is a very,
very good question. i mean you would think that the real patriots that the republicans claim to be would be outraged. we're talking about a presidential election, we're talking about now senators, we're talking about this is the first time the president called his people together to really have this kind of meeting, to really discuss the russian interference in the election, and no republicans are standing up saying with the democrats, wait a minute, we cannot have them do this to the democratic principles the country is supposed to be on. it's a very telling way that where they talked about cleaning out the swamp, that they're dirtier than we thought in the swamp and they are part of it. >> i just have got to say this, i'm sorry. these guys are right about everything, but here's the thing. if i'm writing a script for like a hollywood multi-part scripted drama on some premium cable show and i got donald trump casting
doubt on his own intelligence agencies' assessment, not just that russia meddled but they're continuing to do it. i've got donald trump coming out saying if they're going to meddle, they're going to help the democrats because they don't want trump to win. and then you've got republicans in the house voting down money for increased election infrastructure security. you've got all that stuff. and then a couple days later i write a scene where a democratic senator, it's revealed, who's running for re-election in this election cycle, there's been an attempt to hack her, to spearfish her. people would be like you can't write it that way because it's the proof that all of the preceding was ridiculous and a bunch of lies. this is all you need. they are engaged in -- >> that is why what he said in the last segment becomes so important because if you couple that with people hearing the president cutting a deal on the phone with his personal lawyer about having a shell company to pay somebody and his divorce
papers, you're starting to see this same character that's playing through all these scenes and this is not billions, this is the united states of america. >> right. matt miller -- >> showtime thanks you for that plug. >> or "house of cards." >> this is part of the helsinki hangover, if you will. this is the event that made even the president's closest allies and surrogates wonder if, hmm, maybe there is something there with donald trump, whether it's financial, whether it's something -- some sexual incident that he doesn't want made public, whatever the nature of the is, is, maybe there is something. >> that's right. if you look at the meeting they had today, obviously they go a year and a half without having a single meeting and have it a week after helsinki. >> usually white houses haven't pardoned anybody yet but they have had lots of national security council meetings about america. this president has pardoned joe arpaio and hasn't had a single national security meeting. it's all backwards.
>> and they rushed to hold the meeting this week because his aides figured out that they needed to do something to try to clean up helsinki. when you look at this claire mccaskill story, this happened last fall. the federal government has known about this for months. donald trump presumably knew about this when he was in helsinki and said the russians weren't responsible for what happened in 2016 when two days later he said in the cabinet room that they weren't trying to hack elections now, he would have known that they were trying to hack a democratic senator's e-mail and get in and do the exact same thing they did to hillary clinton. and so when you ask why he denies this, the big thought experiment for me, let's say the russians are successful at doing to claire mccaskill or joe donnelly or someone else what they were able to do to hillary clinton and they can get e-mails and publish them through wikileaks, do you think donald trump will not talk about those on the campaign trail this fall? of course he is. >> we have to sneak in a last break so we can show you something amazing on the other side of it. around here, nobody ever does it
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look who ended up at a gate together at reagan national. that's bob mueller over there on the left reading notes about something. >> hi, bob. >> and that's donald trump jr., casual friday, i guess, if that was today, standing in line on his phone, maybe talking to his lawyer about what mueller wants to know about him. just funny things happen in d.c. what do you think? >> that town is just too small. >> too small for the special counsel and the president's son under investigation? >> is that security right behind him? >> i think so. >> that's a picture of irony, if there was one. i'm sure that maybe donald junior was going to join his father on the golf course after the first big security meeting after a year and a half. >> who's the enterprising person who took that photo? >> i'm glad to have it. bob mueller doesn't get spotted very much in public.
you're reading your twitter mentions. >> thank god it's friday. >> that does it for our hour. i'm nicolle wallace. a star witness. let's play "hardball." >> donald trump's lawyer, the friend he honored with praise now looms as the state witness against him. michael cohen says that donald trump, the man sitting in the oval office knew beforehand about his son and son-in-law and paul manafort's meeting in trump tower to obtain from the russians on hillary clinton. repeat. michael cohen says trump knew ahead of time.
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